#EXCLUSIVE: Pharmacies Defy Official US$1: RTGS$2, 50 Rate

MOST pharmacies in Harare are still using the black market foreign currency exchange rate shunning the official rate of US$1: RTGS$2, 5, HealthTimes has established.

By Kudakwashe Pembere

In a survey around the city’s pharmacies, the publication discovered that they were charging between the range of US$1 as to RTGS$4 and RTGS$4,50. Most pharmacies even hiked the prices of their medicines in the US$.

Asked about  the monetary policy view as presented by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Dr John Mangundya, a pharmacist said it was about time they conceded that the US$ was not at par with the US$ although the move was not going to be felt. He said they would still maintain the parallel market rates against the those used in banks.

“Its sad that the banks do not have the foreign currency as advertised hence we are still relying on the parallel market,” said a pharmacist who requested anonymity.

With the majority of medicines in the country being imports, Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe (PSZ) president Mr Portifah Mwendera said they hope the monetary policy would solve forex challenges. PSZ represents all the suppliers, wholesalers and retailers in the pharmaceutical industry.

“The Society welcomes any efforts from Authorities to address the foreign currency unavailability on the market. It is still early days to tell if the suggested measures will bear the desired result however we also note that the monetary authorities have indicated that the pharmaceutical sector still remains a priority,” he said

He explained that effective supply of medicine imports from abroad relies on the ability to pay. Most suppliers of medicines have been pleading with the RBZ to allocate them adequate forex to pay up medicines.

“The efficient operation of medicine supply is heavily dependent on the ability to pay for importation of raw materials and finished pharmaceutical product and thus ultimately in the effective availability of foreign currency. The rtgs dollar is coming in as one of the other trading currencies and it is hoped the floating of the rate will aid in having the forex available for importers,” said Mr Mwendera.

Mr Mwendera lauded the intermarket forex rates move. “Floating the rate is a good move as it allows market forces to determine value for the currencies and it is anticipated that currency trading will allow more exporters to offload their earnings to importers at a value which does not short change either,” he said.  “Most prices are using a USD base and once trade volumes increase economies of scale should see stabilisation of prices.”

According to Mr Mwendera allocations to the industry were last in October 2018.

“Currently debt to foreign suppliers is close to US$40million with manufactures owing US$8million distributors US$32.5m,” he said.

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